Tuesday 29 September 2015

Meet Frederieke Saeijs

Ahead of performing Oliver Knussen's Violin Concerto as part of our TAKE TWO: Oliver Knussen in Focus double-bill this October, violinist Frederieke Saeijs took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her musical career so far.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Every concert is unique and therefore a highlight in a way, but if I have to choose I’ll go for this upcoming performance of Oliver Knussen’s violin concerto with Britten Sinfonia. I have never before performed a violin concerto under the baton of the composer himself. It will be a great opportunity and inspiration to work so closely together with the very creator of the piece and such an experienced ensemble. I’m looking forward to this experience incredibly!

When are you happiest?
When hugging my son Maxime and my partner Arjen at the same time, in a true family “group hug”!

What is your greatest fear?
In a way, fear itself.

What is your earliest musical memory?
Hearing my father (harpsichord/piano) and my mother (flute) play sonatas by J.S. Bach together.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
One of the many persons I admire is Mauricio Fuks, my former professor at Indiana University. Somehow he is able to read the soul of his students through their playing, as if he had a sixth sense. Also, he knows exactly how to encourage each student by handing out the right tools to perfect technique and to connect to ones own unique musical voice. He has surely contributed greatly to my development as a violinist and artist, for which I’m very thankful.

What is your most treasured possession?
My violin, crafted by Petrus Guarneri in 1725. The instrument is not actually my possession, but thanks to the Dutch National Foundation for Musical Instruments I have the chance to play on it. This violin has become an extension of my body over the past 8 years.

What would your super power be?
I’d like to be able to fly and play Quidditch!

In real life I hope to touch the hearts of the people in the audience through my violin. Music has the potential to create magic and to “give wings” to the listener. So, I intend to use the bow as a magic wand and make the music fly

If you were an animal what would you be?
I’d love to be a seahorse…floating elegantly and peacefully through the sea.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Nibbling a cookie (or other sweet) and putting it back on the plate it is served from

What is your favourite book?
Harry Potter

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
To drink a soy chai tea latte, accompanied by a Dutch “stroofwafel” (syrup waffle)…yummie!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Eugène Ysaÿe, Georges Enescu, Jacques Thibaud, Pablo de Sarasate…all phenomenal violin masters of the past!

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To the workshop of Pietro Guarneri in Venice, 1725, to witness the birth of my violin and to hear it’s first notes being played.

How do you relax away from the concert platform?
I love to salsa dance. Especially after many hours in the same posture (which for the violin is not the most natural one), salsa helps to shake everything loose. Also the happy music instantly puts me in a good mood and helps to get over any sense of fatigue.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To embrace the “here and now” and to count your blessings.

In a nutshell, what is your philosophy?
Seize the day: carpe diem!


Join Britten Sinfonia, Frederieke Saeijs and Oliver Knussen for this performance of Knussen's Violin Concerto - alongside Tippett's Concerto for Orchestra and works by Mozart and Stravinsky - on Wednesday 28 October 2015, 7.30pm at London's Barbican Hall. Find out more.

Read Frederielke's biography here

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Partnerships with Music Education Hubs

Arts Council England recently launched a short film about Music Education Hubs and the work they do to create music education programmes for children and young people.

Britten Sinfonia has been working closely with the Music Education Hubs in the east of England over the past few years and Mateja Kaluza (Creative Learning Co-ordinator) outlines some partnership highlights from the coming season; 

Our partnerships with the Music Hubs across the east of England are central to our Creative Learning programme in 2015-16 and strong relationships with Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Peterborough hubs have helped us to identify areas of need and to shape exciting, dynamic, meaningful and impactful engagement opportunities for schools, families and young talent.

2015-16 season highlights include:

The Cambridgeshire Music Partership has been an unflagging development partner and funder of Link Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia’s pioneering integration project for young musicians with special educational needs  and their non-disabled, GCSE classmates at Comberton Village College. The highly successful pilot year across both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons will culminate in a public performance at Saffron Hall, 6.15pm on Saturday 21 November in which the ensemble will demonstrate the compositional techniques they have developed over a series of intensive courses and premier their resulting works.

Norfolk Music Hub’s commitment to whole-class instrumental learning is supported by Britten Sinfonia in an annual wider opportunity Celebration Day. Having undertaken a year of Wider Opportunities whole class learning, Key Stage 2 children are inspired by the orchestra in a massed ensemble workshop and performance engaging over 300 children on a range of instruments for an immersive playing experience.Read all about the 2014-15 celebration day here

Creative Learning at Lunch workshops allow students to explore new music with Britten Sinfonia's musicians and a workshop leader, and to attend Britten Sinfonia’s At Lunch concert series. Working closely with Norfolk Music hub to identify schools which will most benefit from this opportunity, workshops are tailored to schools needs and are suitable for Key Stage 3 and 4 or GCSE group.

Working closely with Peterborough Music Partnership, the 2015-16 season will see Britten Sinfonia run a major Key Stage 3 Ensemble project involving 4 secondary schools, 120 participants and live-streamed performances to 1000 primary school children. This project is closely tied to Britten Sinfonia's mainstage programme with artistic roots in Strauss’ Metamorphosen (performed in Cambridge on 27 April 2016, Norwich on 29 April 2016 and in London’s Milton Court on 1 May 2016) encouraging the young musicians to explore cultural context and the compositional concept of many individual parts (and performers) working together to create a single work. 

As in both Norwich adn Cambridge we are also committed to supporting Peterborough Hub in providing excellent music education opportunities for young instrumentalists who then have the opportunity take part in a  mass ensemble playing alongside our musicians as part of an annual series  Let’s Play workshops.

Our commitment to working with young musicians with special educational needs or disabilities also reaches to Peterborough where in 2015-16 the hub will support our work with Phoenix Special School.

With such an exciting season ahead, in the Creative Learning team we arelooking forward to further developing the invaluable relationships with the music hubs sharing best practice and professional expertise to help young people discover, explore and celebrate music.

To find out more about our Creative Learning programme click here

Thursday 10 September 2015

Meet Elizabeth Hunt

In another post in our occasional series of Q and A's with soloists, musicians and staff our Development Manager, Elizabeth Hunt answers a few questions. Elizabeth (otherwise known as Izi) is responsible for all our fundraising initiatives from individual donors to our friends scheme, to raising funds towards commissioning new works.

When are you happiest?

At home (I’m a bit obsessed with my house, as it’s my first and I only moved in 6 months ago!) in my garden reading a book or magazine with a cup of tea, listening to the birds sing!

What is your greatest fear?

Losing my family or experiencing a natural disaster first-hand. But I try not to think about those things, so I don’t really have a ‘greatest fear’ in the sense that it affects my day-to-day life. Hopefully no-one really has those!

What is your earliest musical memory?

My elder sister practising for and singing in a school nativity called ‘Hosanna Rock!’ in a little church in the village where we both went to primary school.

Most treasured possession?

I have a few! I am very sentimental so I have quite a lot of things that I hold on to and like (possibly also known as junk) but one thing I love is a little figurine of a dancer (called Esmerelda), which belonged to my grannie – I think it was the first gift that my grandpa gave to her when they were courting in the 1950s. And my house (or more realistically my mortgage?)

What would your super power be?

Being invisible might be quite fun… The power to convince everyone that environmental problems matter and they should take care of the environment, especially bees. Basically I’d be Bee Woman! The environment is so important and there’s so much more, even small things, that people can do to help preserve biodiversity and the planet, so it would be good to have greater influence on that.

If you were an animal would you be?

Giraffes are my favourite animal but I’ve always liked the idea of being a cat, so I could sleep all day in the sunshine. In a garden.

What is your favourite book?

For a while it was The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger), and then I read The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton). And The Rehearsal (also by Eleanor Catton) was great – though I’m still trying to work it out so I’ll definitely be reading it again... I’d happily take these three to a desert island and read them over and over.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Eating too much chocolate and too many cakes and biscuits in the office!

What is the most important life lesson you have learnt?

Never accept anything, or anyone, for that matter, at face value.

What is the first thing you do when you get into the office in the morning?

Check my work emails, log in to Raiser’s Edge, and see if anyone has already made a round of tea!

What has been your biggest achievement so far during your time at Britten Sinfonia?

Managing the Development Department for a couple of months while we were between Directors. And tidying the stationery room.

Favourite musical moment from the Britten Sinfonia concerts you have been involved with?

Well it’s a favourite music and dance moment, but definitely See the Music, Hear the Dance in November 2014 at Sadler’s Wells.

What was the last piece of music you listened to?

It was probably something on Jamie Cullum’s jazz show on Radio 2. And I’m hugely excited to be seeing Punch Brothers live this weekend.

What is your favourite item on/around your desk?

My plant, known as Wilma, who my lovely colleague Karys bought for me! (see picture)

Would you like to share a desk selfie with us?

To find out more about the work of our development team and how you can support Britten Sinfonia click here